28 June 2013

The New York Times: “Instagram Video and the Death of Fantasy”

That’s because Instagram isn’t about reality – it’s about a well-crafted fantasy, a highlights reel of your life that shows off versions of yourself that you want to remember and put on display in a glass case for other people to admire and browse through. It’s why most of the photographs uploaded to Instagram are beautiful and entertaining slices of life and not the tedious time in-between of those moments, when bills get paid, cranky children are put to bed, little spats with friends.

Jenna Wortham

That’s true for photography in general, not only for Instagram. As much as we like to think of photos as impartial reproductions of reality, the truth is life is not a series of static moments, lacking sound, smell or texture, and we cannot go back to relive them the way we can look at a photo again and again. I often find myself looking at old photos and discovering details I overlooked before, stuff I don’t even remember seeing as I pressed the shutter. If someone were to alter the photo, adding or hiding some of these small bits, could I ever know that wasn’t the original? Every photo is an abstraction, at the same time more and less real than our memories, transporting us to a world that never was.

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